My Story

The year was 1989 when I was introduced to that word cancer on a personal level. I was diagnosed at age 39 and soon to be 63 in August 2013 – 24 years ago this year. Wow how does time fly.

The previous years had been rather torrid as I’d just got over an auto immune disease sarcoidosis diagnosed 1985, (or so the Dr told me that I was over it. New information now say's otherwise - see my 'Sarcoidosis Journey" - now I know this is an inflammatory condition. 

(please see the web site www.SarcoidosisLymeAustralia.com

I also had back problems which lead to a back operation namely a laminectomy of the L5 S1 and a frozen shoulder which had to be unfrozen or manipulated under general anesthetic. All of these problems led to me being affected by that syndrome called – Chronic Fatigue (CFS) and Fibromyalgia. (or rather that's what I was diagnosed with

I’ll never forget the day I was told that I had breast cancer. I’d just had a lump removed and was very uncomfortable due to an infection in the wound. 

It was a lovely sunny day and the phone rang.

Good morning Mrs. Sherratt its Dr Smith I have some news for you the tumour we removed was cancerous and I need you to come back into the hospital as soon as possible. 

I’m so sorry he said.

I've since questioned this technique within my self on the method a doctor uses to inform a patient of a diagnosis. Especially when it is related to cancer or chronic conditions. Cancer is such a scary word. But I encourage you to remember that it is just a word and not a sentence. As I am living proof. Anyway back to informing a patient. – Really there is no easy way and I guess the doctor hopefully looks at the best option for the individual.

After I put the phone down from that call I was for a moment in disbelief.

Is this a dream?

Unfortunately it wasn’t.

As my husband drove into the drive way I went to meet him and relayed the doctor’s call. He just stood there not knowing what to say. On reflection the whole process was a lot harder for him than for me; and after talking to other affected partners of people diagnosed with a disease I feel that this is often the norm.

I’d had this lump for I’d say 24 months or more, been to several doctors who all said it’s just one of those hormonal lumps’. For some reason I didn’t feel satisfied with this.

I began to think I was imagining the lump and kept feeling it.

Then one doctor sent me for a mammogram – result was negative. Eventually I had a referral to a specialist who said ok come back in 3 months. Next appointment a needle biopsy was performed and the result was the lump was benign (non-cancerous). Eventually the specialist decided to remove the lump and it was only then that the discovery of a cancerous invasive growth was made.

I underwent a partial mastectomy and radiotherapy at Westmead Hospital for 6 weeks.

And here I am 24 years down the track albeit a little bit older and a few more wrinkles.

So I’d like to encourage you all to know your body and if your 6th sense tells you that something is wrong do not give up. It is your body and you do have the right to seek a second, third or even fourth opinion; remember it’s your body. Doctors are not infallible and see a lot of people every day. And they do make incorrect diagnoses and decisions occasionally just like the car mechanic.

In a way cancer has changed my life for the better. Yes I know that I’m reminded of the disease every day when I look at myself in the mirror. However, I have been able to experience things in life and meet people that I would probably never would have had I not been touched by cancer.

I’ve done Dragon Boat paddling with an wonderful organisation called Dragon’s Abreast and represented Australia in Vancouver Canada at a 100% breast cancer survivor world championships, paddled at Darling  Harbour during the Chinese New Year celebrations in front of 100’s of people.

Started Wollondilly Cancer Support Group with the support and help of the Cancer Council http://www.cancercouncil.com.au This group is run by the guidelines they provide.

 Margaritta, Irene and myself from Wollondilly Cancer Support Group holding a
mini field of women at the back to Bargo Day
 
I've met new friends through WesRan which stands for Western Sydney Regional Advocacy Network we are a group of volunteers who have attended the Cancer Council’s Consumer Advocacy Training and want to make a difference in Western Sydney and are currently working towards building a campaign for greater awareness among'st GP's.

The Cancer Council has trained me in the art of public speaking and I am now a volunteer community speaker.

I've become a Community Representative within Sydney South West Area Health Service (SSWAHS) and sat on the Clinical Review Committee for Macarthur Health Service as one of two community representatives.

Of recent times I heard of a wonderful organisation called Amazon Heart who run a number of programs for people who have had breast cancer.

Amazon Heart Thunder Ride 2006

 Umm Amazon Heart Thunder – wonder what that is all about. (I thought to my self)

Oh no you need to be able to ride a motor bike.

That I cannot do.

Why not I asked myself. Why not indeed.

Now Amazon Heart Thunder is sponsored by Harley Davidson and they provide Harleys for all the participants along with a leather jacket.

A 56 year old grandmother in leathers – wow that will be a sight. Well this is just too good an opportunity to pass up on.

So I sent in my application. Didn’t hear anything till an email came in June outlining all the conditions of riding etc; to my amazement I’d been successful and needed to raise at least $1,500 but preferably $5,000.

Now is that the easy part for those who have done fundraising you’ll know how difficult that is.

But worse was to come. I needed a full motorbike licence.

Terror and horror set in. I took a big gulp and thought well you’ve done it now girl. On a ride in September and not even sat on a motor bike.

I’m sure you can imagine how I felt. I told members of my family and sadly they just laughed and said oh yeh. Mum has no chance. No chance – well that did it. I’ll show them. Tough stuff this babe is made of and yep I do want to be a bikey chick. So I rang the RTA and oh no there are no places available for approx 6 weeks.

Eventually I went to the stay upright course in late July which was over two days. Somehow I passed.

Now they said go away and practice and come back for your test in about 4-6months time.

What the ride will be all over and all finished by then.

On the side I had another small minor problem no bike. Umm I'd just got that wonderful tax check back. Yes enough to buy a cheap bike.

To cut this story short I had just over 7 weeks to get that licence.

Thankfully for once being over 30 has a few benefits and that meant that I could immediately upgrade to a full licence which was mandatory to ride the Harley.

Well let me tell you this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Those nerves definitely set in. Everyone thought I’d gone completely bonkers/mad.

It took three attempts to get this licence after the 2nd time I was in tears. What a task I’d set my self. Some young guys came up to me and said Sue we would really like to help you get this licence this was my last chance as I had two weeks holiday booked in Rockhampton to see my daughter and her family and on my return had only 5 days before the ride.

Give us a ring they said and we will coach you. That morning 10th September 2006 I got up and it was bucketing down it really couldn’t have been a worse day. I was to meet Des and Dave down at the Ingleburn Shopping Centre at 8am.  

These guys who I really didn't know from adam stood there for approx 3 ½ hrs in the pouring rain coaching me then took me home to meet the family and give me some lunch. This really shows that we can have faith in humanity.

I rode around Campbelltown, NSW and surrounding suburbs for the rest of the day till 4pm. Phew I passed.

I rang Des and they were dancing round the house so happy for me. I will never be able to thanks Des and Dave enough for the help they provided during this time.

Thank you Des and Dave.

Well the ride 13th October came very soon. Sue Reedie at Tahmoor Post Office was a stalwart and without her my fundraising efforts would have been paltry.

Des and family and others that I’d met over the last few weeks came to see me off a Coogee Bay. 

Riding a Harley from Sydney to Maroochydore, Toowoomba and on to Brisbane was amazing and a experience I'll never forget.

A novice was when I started but certainly not a novice when I’d finished. It was like a mobile retreat. We laughed and cried together as we got to know one another and listened to each others stories. This was truly an experience of a life time.

 Thank you Harley Davidson.

 

Amazon Heart Thunder Ride 2006

Now I ride a Kawasaki 900cc and am a member of the Wollondilly Wanderers a branch of the Ulysses club.

http://www.ulysses.org.au/branches/wollondilly/

Before I finish I’d like to share a very short story with you.

I’m reminded every day I eat my dinner of a story my Grandmother once told me, and I’d like to share its message with you and it’s all about ‘The Fork’

“In all my years of attending socials she said, I always remember when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, 'Keep Your Fork'. It was my favourite part she said because I knew that something better was coming ........ Like velvety chocolate cake or deep dish apple pie with cream, something wonderful, with substance.

So I’m sure your wondering well ok but what’s with the Fork.

Keeping the Fork in my hand symbolizes that the best is yet to come. So, I would like you to hang on to your fork and when you are down, in need of encouragement or loose hope let it remind you ever so gently that ‘The Best Is Yet to Come’

 

If you would like to receive your own purple fork please email me at support@sarcoidosislymeaustralia.com or ring me on 0488 603 532 and I’ll gladly post you one FREE of charge.

Warmest Regards

Sue

and please always remember

 

'Never, Never, Never Give Up ............

 

because

 

"The Best Is Yet To Come'

 

 

"This is the beginning of a new day.

 

You have been given this day

to use as you will.

 

You can waste it or use it for good.

 

What you do today is important

because you are exchanging

a day of your life for it.

 

When tomorrow comes,

this day will be gone forever;

in its place is something that

you have left behind...

let it be something good."

 

Mac Anderson, author - Finding Joy


 

Survivor by Merci lujan

 

 I am, and always will be a survivor

 

I will conquer anything

that dares to cross my path


 

 “Strength does not come from winning.

 

Your struggles develop your strength.

 

When you go through hardship and

 

decide not to surrender, that is strength."

 

 Arnold Schwarzenegger ~ Actor and Governor of California

 

 

YOU STILL HAVE HOPE 


If you can look at the sunset and smile, 
then you still have hope.


If you can find beauty in the colours of a small flower,

then you still have hope.


If you can find pleasure in the movement of a butterfly, 

then you still have hope.


If the smile of a child can still warm your heart,      

then you still have hope.


If you can see the good in other people,
then you still have hope.


                    If the rain breaking on a roof top can still lull you to sleep,                        then you still have hope.


If the sight of a rainbow still makes you stop and stare in wonder,

then you still have hope.


If the soft fur of a favored pet still feels pleasant under your fingertips,

then you still have hope.


If you meet new people with a trace of excitement and optimism,

then you still have hope.


If you give people the benefit of the doubt,
then you still have hope.


If you still offer your hand in friendship to others that have touched your life,

then you still have hope.


If receiving an unexpected card or letter still brings a pleasant surprise,

then you still have hope.


If the suffering of others still fills you with pain and frustration, 

then you still have hope.


If you refuse to let a friendship die, or accept that it must end,

then you still have hope.


If you look forward to a time or place of quiet and reflection,

then you still have hope.


If you still buy the ornaments, 

put up the Christmas tree or cook the supper,

then you still have hope.


If you can look to the past and smile,

then you still have hope.


If, when faced with the bad, 
when told everything is futile, 
you can still look up and end the conversation with the phrase...


"Yeah...BUT." 


Then you still have hope.


Hope is such a marvellous thing.
It bends, it twists, it sometimes hides,

but rarely does it break.


It sustains us when nothing else can.


It gives us reason to continue and courage to move ahead,

when we tell ourselves we'd rather give in.


Hope puts a smile on our face when the heart cannot manage.


Hope puts our feet on the path when our eyes cannot see it.


Hope moves us to act when our souls are confused of the direction.


Hope is a wonderful thing, something to be cherished and nurtured, 
and something that will refresh us in return.


And it can be found in each of us, 
and it can bring light into the darkest of places.


NEVER LOSE HOPE!


~Author Unknown~

and please always remember 


                'Never, Never, Never Give Up ............


because


"The Best Is Yet To Come" 


Sue